Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Psychology and Behavioral Sciences
Excessive alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors are common health-related concerns among college campuses throughout the United States. Previous efforts to thwart such risky health behaviors have resulted in limited success. Therefore, it is crucial that researchers learn how to effectively communicate with college students in ways that increase healthy behaviors and decrease unhealthy behaviors among this particular population. The purpose of the current study was to examine the effects of message framing, regulatory focus, and psychological reactance on motivating college students to take a more proactive approach in regard to their health and wellbeing. Data from this study were collected from 318 college students ages 18 and older. Participants were recruited from undergraduate classes at a mid-sized public university in the southern United States. It was hypothesized that, when exposed to a gain-framed message, individuals with low psychological reactance and promotion-oriented regulatory focus will report significantly greater behavioral intentions and will seek additional information regarding alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors significantly more than individuals with high psychological reactance and prevention-oriented regulatory focus exposed to a lossframed message. Hypotheses were examined using Factorial ANOVAs. Results indicated a significant main effect for psychological reactance on behavioral intentions for both alcohol use and risky sexual behaviors, such that those low in psychological reactance reported greater intentions not to participate in risky alcohol use or risky sexual behaviors in the future. Exploratory analysis for those low in psychological reactance revealed a significant interaction, such that individuals with a promotion-oriented regulatory focus exposed to a gain frame message reported lower behavioral intentions for risky sexual behaviors compared to those with a prevention-oriented regulatory focus exposed to a gain frame message and those with a promotion-oriented regulatory focus exposed to a loss frame message. Further research should explore message framing with low psychologically-reactant college students and their actual reported behaviors post message framing interventions.
Garza, Mallory B., "" (2019). Dissertation. 838.